France In Full Lockdown…..Again
We seem to be running in circles these days, taking four steps forward and then ten back, the entire world stuck in some crazy 2020 time-loop warp. It’s a mind-boggling period, where time passes and yet contracts in the same moment, or at least that’s what it feels like.
Because once again, France is on full lockdown…..
It was announced Wednesday this week, in a typically flowery speech by Mr. Macron. The whole thing was rather surreal and felt much like a repeat of March, as if time had suddenly whirled backwards ~8 months. And indeed the details are almost exactly the same. We’re shutting down because COVID-19 is out of control, and hospital ICU beds are filling up faster than they are emptying. It’s what happened in March, it’s what we already knew was going to happen this winter and yet, just as in March things progressed SO much faster than anyone predicted. A mere 2 weeks after announcing a Curfew that (predictably) did little to slow the spread, we find ourselves here.
BAM…..in full shut-down.
It’s hard to describe how I feel about all this, to be back in this space, restricted to 1km radius of daily exercise and filling out paperwork to go anywhere for the next month (and likely more).
In some ways it’s easier than the first time. This is all quite familiar, so we know what we need to do to get through it. That’s the positive side. And yet being familiar, we also know how hard this is going to be mentally. Confinement is no easy task, no matter what your situation and there are days it can feel hopeless, no matter how organized you try to be in your day-today. It’s no surprise that the evening before lockdown there was over 700km (~430 miles) of traffic jams in the capital, as Parisians fled the city in a last-minute rush to get to the countryside while they still could. Everyone knows what is coming, and no-one wants to be stuck in the same situation again.
So that’s the theme of today’s post. A week of strange and crazy time-travel, in more ways than one. We have confinement, chocolate, and flowers on the menu, giving us hope, but also questions of where all this will go. And the answers, I do not yet know.
All Of Europe Is Heading Into Lock-Down (Soon)
“How did we manage to get to this point….yet again??”
Ah yes, hindsight is 20-20.
A few months ago France was in the “green”, breathing a collective sigh of relief from the last shut-down. So summer vacays were celebrated en masse, giving the country a much-needed psychological and economic boost. It felt like a fabulous reprieve, but in fact it was the start of another inevitable infection trajectory south. The COVID-19 numbers rose, slowly at first, then exponentially as the natural mathematics of the virus spread evolved. Hospitalizations followed, albeit a bit later than expected, and then finally this week ICU beds hit 60% occupancy nationwide, a critical number that could no longer be ignored.
It was just a sequence of unfortunate events, a mix of inadequate test & trace, too-slow government response, a good summer with open borders, our free-loving Western culture, and just basic human nature. We hoped we could continue life mostly as before (we really did), but it turns out that containing a fast-infecting virus, without a vaccine or proven treatment, is really frikkin hard.
So yes, it’s March all over again, like some kind of horror movie on re-run. It’s frustrating and trying, horrible for those who will loose their jobs or businesses, terrifying for the elderly and immensely difficult for everyone, but if we want to prevent our hospitals from getting over-run (which we must, as the knock-on consequences are too deadly to contemplate), then it’s too late to make any other kind of decision.
We are not alone either…
The rest of Europe are all seeing the same trajectory as France, and are falling like dominos to lockdowns that are IMO soon likely to encompass the entire region. Ireland started early, announcing a 6-week lockdown on Oct 20th. So did Spain who have been doing progressive regional border closures for some time. Then this week it all accelerated. Portugal and Greece announced partial lock-downs, while Germany, UK and Austria all announced nationwide month-long lock-downs. More will undoubtedly join us soon.
My friends in the USA prepare yourself, because if it’s goes anything like it did last time you are mere weeks behind us. Think about winter, think about Christmas, find a spot you can settle down for a while. IMO we’re in for another rough ride….
Confinement In France Will Last Until 1st Dec
The lockdown in France this second time will last until 1st Dec or at least that’s the current plan (I think it’s likely to be extended), and the rules are very similar to the last time with just a few exceptions.
The focus is very simply, to stay at home.
We can only go out for specific reasons such as grocery shopping, doctors appointment etc. or for exercise limited to 1 km radius from our home, 1 hour per day. Every time we go out we have to carry a form, called an “attestation de déplacement” (can be printed, or electronically generated thro’ an app on your phone) and if you’re caught without it or you’re caught breaking the rules you get a fine, starting at 135 € (first offence) ramping rapidly to 3,750 € and 6 months in prison (multiple offences). All shops, except those deemed essential are closed, as are all restaurants and bars.
The main difference this time? Schools for kids are remaining open, up to lycée level (universities are closed). Also, visits to retirement homes will be allowed and most public services will stay open.
Basically you’re limited to staying at-home, except for essential needs, taking your kids to/from school or visiting an old folks home, and one small outing a day to walk.
Mentally for me, the 1 km thing gets me the most. I dunno why, but it’s the hardest for me to wrap my head around.
We Are As Prepped As We Can Be (& Lucky Too)
I have to admit that in many ways, we are incredibly lucky.
We have functioning septic system, thank the Effluence Gods! I can hardly believe that we managed to get that darn thing approved and installed in the few months we had “off” between the last shutdown and this one. But we did and I’m so, so thankful! If that’s not a minor miracle that makes you believe in good things in this world, I don’t know what is.
Plus we have heat, thank the Pellet Deities! Yet another profoundly lucky endeavor, a bright spot of silver on the lining of our confinement clouds, that was achieved in our mere few months of freedom. We will stay toasty warm this winter and will not have to worry about fuel either. Since we’re about to be spending A LOT of time indoors, that is something to look forward to.
And believe it or not, I’ve managed to stock-up. I’ve had this nagging feeling that we were going to lockdown for some time, so early this week I decided rather impulsively to stock-up and replenish our shelves, getting us back to the multi-week inventory levels we had during the last confinement. I managed to squeeze this in right before confinement was announced, and the subsequent panic-buying that swept the country on Thursday. A lucky break I guess, even though it’s kind of tragically sad that I timed it so well.
Lastly, the weather has been a special kind of spectacular.
The day before confinement was probably one of the nicest days we’ve seen in months. A perfectly sunny, cool, still, gorgeous day that my dad and I took advantage of by going to the weekly outdoor farmers market in nearby Carbonne. It was a wonderfully relaxing day, almost as if nature was lulling us into the lockdown, singing softly so that we would slip into our enclosed sleep without even thinking about it. The few days since have been equally lovely, reminding us that despite everything, we’re in one helluva nice place.
We’ve Got Chocolate
Another rather fortunate upside is that we’ve entered this lockdown period with a decent chocolate stash.
This week our local stores started their much-anticipated “Foire au Chocolat”, the yearly mega-sales of chocolate goodies that typically start a few weeks after the yearly wine sales have ended.
I mentioned this wonderful phenomenon a few blog posts ago, and was lucky enough to catch it during my early-week shop right before the lockdown. A lucky score! You’ll be relieved to hear (I’m sure), that having replenished our wine cellar to Medieval siege-worthy levels in September, we now have an equally impressive stock of dark chocolate decadence to compliment it.
Incidentally, the grocery stores seem to be stuck in a time-warp much like we are.
Halloween decorations are out in force, despite that fact that in France no-one that I know of actually decorates their house or goes trick-or-treating. As a native-born European I don’t really get it as I never experienced anything remotely Halloween-ish until I moved to USA as a young twenty-something. So who buys these trinkets? It’s a French mystery that I hope one day to solve.
On the other hand, Christmas seems to have seeped into the displays, betwixt ghoulish masks and chocolate. I guess the stores don’t want to miss out on anything, and thus have launched a multi-pronged attack of all things past, all things happening, and all that is to be. Not my cup of tea, as they say, but I guess no-one can stop the beast of commerce.
At this rate Christmas will start in autumn in a few years time…
And The Dead Are Being Honored Today
Today on Nov 1st, right after the start of confinement, also happens to be Toussaint, the celebration of all the saints and the day the French honor their dead.
For a little while now chrysanthemums have been on sale everywhere; in grocery stores, at markets and in the garden stores. Beautiful, colorful bouquets at inexpensive prices, but not something to be bought except if you’re taking it to a graveyard (Key French tip: never, ever buy one of these for a neighbor or house-warming, and for goodness sake don’t plant them in your garden either. Seriously….).
This week-end the graves of those who have passed have been decorated with them, in a beautiful and sobering display. And this year it feels especially potent and surreal, as we enter into lockdown at the same time as we’re honoring those that have passed.
Death and times of the living in a pandemic. The circle of life and past, merged into one. It all feels rather apt.
This next month (or months) are not going to be easy. I hope for the future, but also feel rather despondent, wondering where this will all lead. I guess soon I will either be waxing poetic about our little 1km circle, or taking you down some darker mental journeys. I know there will be days of both. Be prepared my friends, for yourself too. We are taking another journey in this crazy year of 2020, and it’s not over yet….
How do you all feel this week, my friends? What do you think of all this? Are you prepared for another confinement or SIP? Where do you think winter will take us? DO share in the comments below.SPONSORED LINK:
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